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HOW THE WOMAN GOT HER PERIOD

Dr. Suzanne Sadedin answers the question "What is the evolutionary or biological purpose of having periods?" on Quora with the best type of science-based storytelling.
posted by fontophilic on Apr 10, 2014 - 74 comments

 

Put on your dancing genes and boogie

Evolutionary biologists at Northumbria University have used science to figure out "attractive human dance moves" that demonstrate optimum genotypic and phenotypic health to prospective mates. "Cutting-edge motion capture technology" was used to record good and bad dancing. (Technoviking was reportedly unpleased.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Mar 25, 2014 - 29 comments

The Battle of the Fruit and Vegetable Soldiers

Darwin's Children Drew All Over the On The Origin of Species Manuscript.
posted by ShooBoo on Mar 18, 2014 - 19 comments

Man As "Meaty Robot," A Capitalist Fairy Tale

As an antidote to the "economic calculator" view of behavior, OWS's Graeber offers a counter principle: "The free exercise of an entity’s most complex powers or capacities tends to become an end in itself."
posted by blankdawn on Feb 8, 2014 - 18 comments

Science Guy versus "God" Guy

Bill Nye is debating the head of the Creation Museum tomorrow. Ken Ham, founder of Northern Kentucky tourist attraction "Answers in Genesis" Creation Museum, has challenged Science Guy Bill Nye to a duel, errr, a debate. Nye, while tolerant of Ham's religious beliefs, draws the line at creationism creeping into science curriculum. More pre-event throwdowns are here. [more inside]
posted by tizzie on Feb 3, 2014 - 350 comments

Get familiar with our phylogeny

Organisms Do Evolve. An evolution-themed parody of "Wrecking Ball" (possibly nsfw) by Carin Bondar.
posted by homunculus on Jan 14, 2014 - 12 comments

Ghosts of Evolution

After a species goes extinct, in some cases its "ghost" may linger in the ecosystem it leaves behind in the form of evolutionary anachronisms. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Dec 18, 2013 - 11 comments

The Pit of Bones

Baffling 400,000-Year-Old Clue (NYT) to Human Origins: The pit of bones hides our oldest DNA.
posted by homunculus on Dec 6, 2013 - 7 comments

"‘The gene does not lead,’ she says. ‘It follows.’"

The selfish gene is one of the most successful science metaphors ever invented. Unfortunately, it’s wrong.
posted by overeducated_alligator on Dec 3, 2013 - 79 comments

Godless Dinosaur Sodomites

"Now, I don't write many short stories these days, but I'm a sucker for the right kind of charity approach. And besides, I had a hypothesis I wanted to test: that every short story can be improved by adding dinosaurs and sodomy." SF author Charles Stross (metafilter's own) shares a short shaggy dog story he wrote back in 2011 containing sex, waterfowl, and reverse-engineering evolution: "A Bird In Hand."
posted by The Whelk on Nov 27, 2013 - 35 comments

"Somebody's gotta stand up to these experts!"

Creationists' Last Stand at the Texas State Board of Education
posted by brundlefly on Nov 14, 2013 - 82 comments

You old fishface you

This 419-Million-Year-Old Fish Has the World’s Oldest Known Face What makes it remarkable is everything that’s come after it: It’s the oldest known creature with a face, and may have given rise to virtually all the faces that have followed in the hundreds of millions of years since, including our own.
posted by maggieb on Oct 24, 2013 - 32 comments

Four wings good, two wings better?

The Rise and Fall of Four-Winged Birds [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 17, 2013 - 21 comments

For Safer Food, Just Add Viruses

In March 2012, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture uncovered a problem in Elgin, Texas. Beef sausage from a small family-run meat processor appeared to have been contaminated with a nasty bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes. The bug can make people sick and, in rare cases, be deadly. The processor had to recall more than a ton of sausage. It’s the kind of story that strikes terror in the hearts of other sausage peddlers, including Mike Satzow, so he uses phages to keep his small company's sausages safe to eat.
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 1, 2013 - 58 comments

Evolved design

Unleashing Genetic Algorithms on the iOS 7 Icon - In the pursuit of something just a bit tighter than Marc Edwards' superellipse approximation, Mike Swanson applies genetic algorithms to the task of making a better button-making script.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 26, 2013 - 19 comments

Primordial Complete Jaw

"The majority of fossil discoveries worth publishing about can either strengthen previous studies or dish out little parcels of new data. These allow us to slowly piece together the history of life on Earth, but do not significantly rock the boat. But every now and then you are confronted with a jaw-dropping specimen, a fossil that says, “forget the textbooks, THIS is how it happened…” Momentous discoveries like Lucy the Australopithecus and the first batch of Chinese feathered dinosaurs that unleashed a tsunami of new information, bringing sudden clarity to our view of the distant past, and forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about evolution. Now joining their ranks is a little armoured fish called Entelognathus, described in Nature by an international team of researchers led by Prof. Zhu Min at IVPP, Beijing." [more inside]
posted by Akhu on Sep 26, 2013 - 12 comments

The story of Wallace evolving

The Year Of Wallace (who wasn't Darwin) is pretty well-covered on MeFi. But there's news, history keeps evolving: First, a 17-year-old pupil rediscovered Wallace's butterfly collection at the Oxford University Museum. Second, a new book details how evolution was discovered. [samples here and here | both links link to .pdf files, the second one a biggie] And finally, The Darwin-Wallace mystery solved.
posted by Substrata on Sep 12, 2013 - 6 comments

Hemiscyllium halmahera

The Indonesian Walking Shark -- a new species of shark that walks on its fins rather than swims.
posted by DoubleLune on Aug 26, 2013 - 32 comments

Blurred Lines (no relation to Robin Thicke)

What, really, is a wolf-dog?? Wolf-dogs already blur the line between dog and wolf - BUT things get really muddy if dogs are proven to have evolved themselves : "The evolutionarily correct way to state all this is that human beings, with their campfires and garbage heaps and hunting practices, but above all with their social interactions, represented an ecological niche ripe for exploitation by wolves."
posted by huckhound on Aug 18, 2013 - 36 comments

LET’S LEARN ABOUT CATS

CATS? WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW THEY GOT DOMESTICATED (MAYBE??) A TUMBLR ESSAY
posted by The Whelk on Aug 10, 2013 - 52 comments

Thatcher was Wrong

Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows "Evolution does not favour selfish people, according to new research. This challenges a previous theory which suggested it was preferable to put yourself first. Instead, it pays to be co-operative, shown in a model of "the prisoner's dilemma", a scenario of game theory - the study of strategic decision-making. Published in Nature Communications, the team says their work shows that exhibiting only selfish traits would have made us become extinct. "
posted by marienbad on Aug 2, 2013 - 79 comments

Best of Breed Solution

Are human beings the descendants of chimpanzee/pig hybrids? This radical theory might seem easy to disprove, but "decent arguments against the hybrid origins theory are surprisingly hard to find."
posted by chrchr on Jul 25, 2013 - 134 comments

The Great Unconformity

The results of the Cambrian explosion are well documented in the fossil record, but its cause -- why and when it happened, and perhaps why nothing similar has happened since -- has been a mystery. Now a recent paper in Nature (abstract) suggests that the answer may lie in a second geological curiosity -- a dramatic boundary, known as the Great Unconformity, between ancient igneous and metamorphic rocks and younger sediments.
posted by Long Way To Go on Jun 23, 2013 - 18 comments

Messing around in boats

"For nearly two centuries, biologists have been struck by a mystery of geography and biodiversity peculiar to Europe. As Edward Forbes pointed out as far back as 1846, there are a number of life forms (including the Kerry slug, a particular species of strawberry tree and the Pyrenean glass snail) that are found in two specific distant places—Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula—but few areas in between." -- How did a specific snail species from the Pyrenees end up in Ireland but nowhere else?
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 23, 2013 - 16 comments

1.21 Gigawatts of Music

The evolution of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" is an excellent interpretation of their latest single through different decades.
posted by spiderskull on Jun 12, 2013 - 55 comments

Embryonic koro in birds

Cocks (almost) don't have a penis, a trait common to 97% of bird species, but they can grow one when the expression of the Bmp4 gene is prevented. The expression of this gene causes the percursor of the phallus in the chick embryo to undergo apoptosis (cell death) and Bmp genes are also involved in 3 other bird traits: feather development, toothlessness and beak shape. In penis-less bird species, copulation requires a sex maneuver nicknamed the cloacal kiss (in French) which requires a full cooperation of the female (3 min of tender parrot sex). In species where males have a penis, like ducks, females are less lucky: the coevolution of the rather convoluted morphology of male and female genitalia has been hypothezised to occur through sexual conflict [many previouslies]. The evolutionary mechanisms that drove phallus reduction in most birds species are still unknown.
posted by elgilito on Jun 11, 2013 - 20 comments

Important communication skills

Use "Metatalk" skill to discuss communication problems.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 15, 2013 - 46 comments

Why I Study Duck Genitalia

In the past few days, the Internet has been filled with commentary on whether the National Science Foundation should have paid for my study on duck genitalia, and 88.7 percent of respondents to a Fox news online poll agreed that studying duck genitalia is wasteful government spending. The commentary supporting and decrying the study continues to grow. As the lead investigator in this research, I would like to weigh in on the controversy and offer some insights into the process of research funding by the NSF.
Come for the passionate defense of basic science, stay for the explosive eversion of a duck penis.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on May 3, 2013 - 33 comments

The rise of the tick

With incisor-like claws that can tunnel beneath your skin in seconds, ticks are rapidly establishing themselves as the Swiss Army knife of disease vectors. Carl Zimmer walks into the woods to find out why these tiny beasts appear to be skyrocketing in number – and outsmarting environmental scientists trying to control them with every bite.
posted by Blasdelb on May 2, 2013 - 79 comments

“Rituals are the glue that holds social groups together.”

Social Evolution - The Ritual Animal "Praying, fighting, dancing, chanting — human rituals could illuminate the growth of community and the origins of civilization." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 23, 2013 - 11 comments

Selection pressure

Researchers have found that size does matter as it relates to overall proportions of the male body (PNAS link, PDF)
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 8, 2013 - 233 comments

Iterated learning using YouTube

"What happens if you repeatedly run Kafka's Metamorphosis through YouTube's auto-transcription? Structure emerges!" via Sean Roberts
posted by knile on Apr 2, 2013 - 18 comments

Evolution: Maybe It's Not Just for the Fittest Anymore

Is it time to put natural selection in its place? Jello Biafra once famously wrote that "If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve." But while it likely comes as no surprise to specialists working in the field or to those who've been following developments in evolutionary biology closely, there's an emerging view among experts that Darwin's view of natural selection as the primary driver of speciation and evolutionary change may be incorrect or at least drastically overstated. It's long been understood that non-adaptive evolutionary mechanisms like "genetic drift" and random mutation also play non-trivial roles in evolutionary processes, but a recent study (link to abstract with full-text PDF available) casts new doubts on the primary role of natural selection, finding that "Neutral models, in which genetic change arises through random variation without fitness differences have proven remarkably successful in describing observed patterns of biodiversity." [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on Mar 28, 2013 - 51 comments

Nagel on the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature

Andrew Ferguson explains and defends eminent philosopher Thomas Nagel, who has been stirring up outraged refutations (e.g. here or here) with his new book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Also in the defense column is philosopher Edward Feser's extensive series on Nagel's book.
posted by shivohum on Mar 19, 2013 - 163 comments

sea & sky

seaQuest: what if we could learn to live on/underneath the oceans (or in orbit)? [previously(er)] [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 18, 2013 - 14 comments

Faces of Human Ancestors

To put a human face on our ancestors, scientists from the Senckenberg Research Institute used sophisticated methods to form 27 model heads based on tiny bone fragments, teeth and skulls collected from across the globe. Here is a video showing those different models morphing into one another. Original article here. [via] [more inside]
posted by lazaruslong on Mar 4, 2013 - 12 comments

Evolution of Mom Dancing [SLYT] In honor of the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign, and to encourage parents everywhere to get up and get moving with their kids, Jimmy Fallon and Michelle Obama present the "Evolution of Mom Dancing."
posted by Fizz on Feb 23, 2013 - 55 comments

It is raining spiders in Brazil.

"Hundreds (maybe thousands) of spiders congregate between poles in the town of Santo Antonio de Plantina / PR." [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 9, 2013 - 32 comments

"In the future, everything will be terrifying."

Dougal Dixon is a scientist, author, and illustrator. While he is most famous for his work on dinosaurs, his books After Man: A Zoology of the Future and Man After Man: An Anthropology Of The Future attempt to explore what might happen in the far future. The Posthuman Art Of Dougal Dixon. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 30, 2013 - 26 comments

For the study of nature and the search for truth

Even though you've heard of Darwin, it's quite possible that you're not familiar with Alfred Russel Wallace (previously), co-discoverer of the theory of evolution (a shame; in many respects he's the more interesting of the two!). Fortunately you can now learn more about the man through transcripts and scans of his letters with family and colleagues, which the UK Natural History Museum have just published online. [more inside]
posted by barnacles on Jan 29, 2013 - 15 comments

A pelican that looks like a urinal

Go home, evolution, you're drunk. A photo of a pelican that looks like a urinal. Brought to you by WTF, Evolution?
posted by escabeche on Jan 16, 2013 - 54 comments

Eight criticisms not to make about group selection

Group selection, which was once widely rejected as a significant evolutionary force, is now accepted by all who seriously study the subject. There is still widespread confusion about group selection, however, not only among students and the general public, but among professional evolutionists who do not directly study the subject. We list eight criticisms that are frequently invoked against group selection, which can be permanently laid to rest based upon current knowledge. Experts will always find something to critique about group selection, as for any important subject, but these eight criticisms are not among them. Laying them to rest will enable authors to openly use the term group selection without being handicapped during the review process. [HTML], [PDF]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 15, 2013 - 41 comments

"it's quite clear that there's tons of cultural transmission that's just strictly by observational learning."

How Culture Drove Human Evolution
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 4, 2013 - 44 comments

Projectile Shit Vomiting For the Win

The Norovirus: A Study in Puked Perfection, "Each norovirus carries just nine protein-coding genes (you have about 20,000). Even with that skimpy genetic toolkit, noroviruses can break the locks on our cells, slip in, and hack our own DNA to make new noroviruses. The details of this invasion are sketchy, alas, because scientists haven’t figured out a good way to rear noroviruses in human cells in their labs. It’s not even clear exactly which type of cell they invade once they reach the gut. Regardless of the type, they clearly know how to exploit their hosts. Noroviruses come roaring out of the infected cells in vast numbers. And then they come roaring out of the body. Within a day of infection, noroviruses have rewired our digestive system so that stuff comes flying out from both ends." [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 3, 2013 - 120 comments

Woese once said of himself and his work that when a wise man points out the moon, only a fool looks at the finger. Let us all be fools if just for a moment .

Microbiology's Scarred Revolutionary(PDF), Carl Woese (pron.: /ˈwoʊz/), a biophysicist and evolutionary microbiologist whose discovery 35 years ago of a “third domain” of life in the vast realm of micro-organisms altered scientific understanding of evolution, died on Sunday at his home in Urbana, Ill. He was 84. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 2, 2013 - 26 comments

State of Nature

“When I spoke at the two Ron Paul events in Tampa, a young man kind enough to pick me up at the airport told me a fascinating story. The vast majority of young Ron volunteers in offices he visited all over the country were paleo. If a kid ordered pizza — which was always the primary or perhaps only campaign food — he was practically booed,” Atossa Araxia Abrahamian writes in The New Inquiry about the paleo diet, libertarianism, and the appealing idea of a healthy, undistorted state of nature to which we can return if we are only pure enough. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Dec 29, 2012 - 208 comments

Japan

What's Going On In Japan? "Really Japan is quite a remarkable case, since neither fiscal nor monetary policy seems to be working to achieve the anticipated results. This year Japan will have a fiscal deficit of around 10% of GDP and gross government debt will hit 235% of GDP, yet the country is still struggling to find growth. Instead of reiterating old dogmas (whether they come from Keynes or from Hayek) more people should be asking themselves what is happening here. This is not a simple repetition of something which was first time tragedy and is now second time tragedy, it is something new, and could well be a harbinger for more that is to come, elsewhere. Oh, why oh why are economists not more curious?" [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 27, 2012 - 82 comments

Hint. It's not sugary breakfast cereal.

'If you’re like me, you’ll have asked yourself many times, “Why do toucans have such ridiculously big bills?”' [more inside]
posted by panaceanot on Dec 20, 2012 - 32 comments

Wired admires inspired spiders

It is common behavior for humans to develop an avatar to present a larger-than-life version of themselves on the web, often as a defense mechanism. For the first time, this activity has been observed in another species.
posted by oulipian on Dec 19, 2012 - 48 comments

Nudibranch of the Forest

The Translucent Jewel Caterpillar, the Nudibranch of the Forest. Gorgeous caterpillar covered in break-off gumdrops that may help it escape predators. Turns into a bright orange furry moth.
posted by AceRock on Dec 11, 2012 - 18 comments

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